Residential service charges—disputes and procedures
Produced in partnership with Victoria Jones
Residential service charges—disputes and procedures

The following Property Disputes guidance note Produced in partnership with Victoria Jones provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Residential service charges—disputes and procedures
  • The power to recover residential service charges
  • Reasonableness of the service charge demand
  • Raising a dispute as to residential service charge—application to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber)
  • Types of residential service charge dispute—reasonableness, demands and notices, time limits for service charge demands
  • Recovering the landlord's costs of proceedings
  • Enforcement of a FTT (Property Chamber) decision on service charge

This Practice Note explains the procedure for handling some of the most common residential service charge disputes under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (LTA 1985).

For general guidance on the statutory consultation process for qualifying works and qualifying long term agreements, including potential disputes which can arise from that process, see Practice Note: Residential—statutory consultation procedure for service charges.

The power to recover residential service charges

An overriding principle in relation to the recovery of service charges is that a landlord is not obliged to provide any service that is not expressly set out in the lease. Nor is a landlord entitled to levy a service charge, nor a leaseholder obliged to pay for anything, that is not covered in the lease.

Reasonableness of the service charge demand

In the case of residential properties, a service charge must be reasonable, to the extent that it must be reasonably incurred (but not necessarily reasonable in amount) and that the works or services must be of a reasonable standard.

Hence, a landlord is entitled to be reimbursed for his expenditure on the maintenance, repair and upkeep of the building and he is not usually bound to minimise his costs, but he is not permitted to make a profit.

In Waaler, it was held that where a landlord has a choice between different methods